Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar


Date:
1945; remodeled in 1953 and1967
Architect:
Howard Hirsch Interior Design
Neighborhood:
San Francisco
Building Type:
Commercial
Address:
950 Mason Street, San Francisco
Current Name:
Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar
Current Use:
Cocktail lounge and restaurant
Current Condition:
Good
Status:
Not Listed
Located on the Terrace Level of the Fairmont Hotel at 950 Mason Street, the Tonga Room is a cocktail lounge and restaurant designed in the Polynesian Pop, or “Tiki,” style. The Tonga Room occupies the site of the old Fairmont “Plunge,” an indoor swimming pool (still extant) constructed in 1929 at the rear of the Fairmont Hotel. The Tonga Room originally opened in 1945 as a nautical-themed bar. The space was completely remodeled twice since 1945; once in 1953 in the “Hawaiian style,” and again in 1967, when it achieved its current “High Tiki” appearance.  One of the Tonga Room’s signature features – the half-hourly tropical rain shower – was introduced in the 1953 remodel.  Aside from several minor renovations, the Tonga Room has remained largely the same since 1967. Built at the apex of the Polynesian Pop style, not so long before it began to decline in popularity, the Tonga Room represents a highly evolved (and rare example) of the so-called “High Tiki” style in San Francisco and California as a whole. With its lava rock walls, lagoon, half-hourly rain showers, floating “Band Boat,” salvaged nautical elements, and custom-carved Tikis, the Tonga Room is by any measure the best example of the Polynesian Pop style ever built in San Francisco.

Sources:
VerPlanck, Christopher. Department of Parks and Recreation, Primary Record and Building, Structure, and Object Record – “The Tonga Room.” San Francisco: 2009.

Kirsten, Sven. The Book of Tiki. Köln: Taschen, 2004.

 

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